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The location of Costa Rica's most active volcano until as recently as 2010, Arenal National Park contains a bizarre landscape of solidified lava flows, lush natural forest and tropical flora and fauna which includes howler monkeys, toucans and over 350 bird species.

After lying dormant for several centuries, Arenal erupted in 1968 and continued almost continuously for over 40 years, making it one of the world’s most explosive cones. During this period, subterranean activity often caused minor explosions and small lava flows, which – cloud cover permitting – were visible after dark from the nearby town of La Fortuna. In recent times, however, the volcano is in a period of quiescence; the customary activity has subsided and the once nightly pyrotechnic display has ceased.

During your stay you can enjoy a relaxing bathe in the thermal waters at one of the spa resorts such as Tabacón or Ecotermales, and the wetlands of Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge lie only a couple of hours drive way. Other activities include hiking through the rainforest and across old lava flows, horse riding, canoeing and white-water rafting on the area’s numerous rivers and lakes.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: boa constrictor, mantled howler monkey, violet sabrewing, agouti, armadillo
  • Where: Alajuela Province, Costa Rica

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Natural Highlights

An exceptional trip to discover Costa Rica’s abundant birds and wildlife amid its forests, lagoons and beaches. Highlights include the canals of Tortuguero, Arenal’s volcanic landscapes and howler monkeys, spectacular birdwatching in Monteverde’s cloud forests, canopy walkways and idyllic beaches.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Costa Rica Family Adventure

This family trip has plenty of interesting activities to introduce you to tropical wildlife, yet there is also ample time to relax (all hotels have a pool) if you wish. The distances are not great, so you won’t waste time travelling, but have maximum opportunity to enjoy Costa Rica to the full.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 16 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Arenal Observatory Lodge

Perched on a ridge in a private reserve close to Arenal Volcano, the Arenal Observatory Lodge was once a Smithsonian Institute scientific research station. Hiking trails from the lodge extend into the surrounding rainforest and complimentary walks are led by resident naturalist guides.

Hotel Arenal Springs

Hotel Arenal Springs is located just outside La Fortuna en route to Volcan Arenal National Park. Its 87 air-conditioned junior suites all have direct views of the volcano and are surrounded by exotic gardens. Bird lovers will delight in the 132 bird species that have been recorded within the hotel’s grounds.